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“Good to see you mate. It’s been a long time”. Angus, the district Political Officer and the other half of our Stabilisation Team greeted me as I stepped off the military transport, fresh from two weeks leave. He looked ever so slightly haggard – the usual spring in his step a shade less energetic than […]

Commuting isn’t easy at the best of times. Travel into and out of Helmand’s northern district of Musa Qal’eh however, requires a whole new level of resilience. Heading out on leave involves the planning of a military operation. Limited helicopters mean I can only travel on odd-numbered days – provided I submit my request at […]

The whistle blew and 300 people cheered for the first time in a generation. Ten men in Afghan Army fatigues advanced toward their opposite numbers, local students clad in matching striped jerseys. Plumes of dust rose from the freshly raked pitch while people clambered onto rooftops, straining for a better view. Popular music boomed from […]

The Huey skimmed the jagged crest of the mountain at a furious pace. I squinted into the gale as the district of Now Zad emerged from behind the line of peaks standing guard. This rollercoaster 10-minute flight spared me the dangers of a gruelling, IED-riddled road journey from Musa Qal’eh. This had been my third […]

As the lumbering Osprey helicopter roared overhead, blasting its audience with a searing cloud of dust, so ended the era of Mullah Salaam. With the fall of Musa Qal’eh to the British in late 2007, Mullah Salaam became the highest profile Taliban commander to turn over his arms and renounce his position. In return he […]